All daily reports are by David Noone
Finals day here in Melbourne. So the play off matches started nice and early to maximise viewing capacity for the two big finals. No third place play off, both semi final losers receiving a bronze medal.
Tristan was on at 0930, he prepared well and was ready to rock for his last game down under. His opponent, from Chinese Taipei, was a smooth mover and good counter attacker. It looked like it was going to be difficult in there.
A great start from the Sutton man, hitting his targets and being patient, imposing his height and strength. As the games unfolded, errors crept in and that ultimately decided it, a few too many mistakes and it resulted in a 3-0 loss. Gutted for Tristan as he played nice squash and held a good account of himself.
Elliot followed Tristan, he played a Kuwaiti that impressed in yesterday’s match. He had great hands, could pick the ball off on the volley very quickly and we knew it would be tough. As the battle commenced, the points racked up against Elliot, he was being stretched from corner to corner and couldn’t neutralise well enough. All games were closely contested and Elliot definitely played better as the match went on. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be in his last match here. A 3-0 loss. He’ll be disappointed but as ever, lots learned.
Dylan Moran was playing Caleb Boy of England. He lost in 3 quick games.
Jack O’Flynn had another mammoth battle. An exceptional match, demonstrating why it’s important to give due attention to every match, even if it’s the 7th one of the week. An apprenticeship almost, hardening your resilience and developing character.
Jack found the best of himself, battling to an outstanding 3-2 win that had everything. This match had all the mistakes, all the winners, long and short rallies but most of all, the determination to win at all costs. A nice way to end the championships!! The long flight home will be all the better for it.
The two finals took place on the glass court, it was packed out which made for a great atmosphere. The girls final was incredible, at just 16 years old, Amina Orfi claimed her second world junior title. Seriously powerful hitting from the young Egyptian, amazing to think she has potential to win four U19 titles in a row..
In the men’s, it was a tetchy start, long rallies and no inch given. Another super young Egyptian, Zakaria, up against Pakistan’s Hamza Khan. Two amazing games were evenly split until Khan assumed control in the 3rd. And ran away with the fourth. The first Pakistan winner in 37 years..
For Ireland, the individual event is over and the boys will fly home. There is a dinner closing dinner to celebrate.
Tomorrow, the start of the teams!!
An early morning practice for the girls today. Nice atmosphere in the club before breakfast, we even shared the courts with the Kiwis and had a few sets with them. All the team hitting well and getting ready for the teams to start on Monday.
Elliot had a bye today, so took it handy and soaked up some of the quality squash on the glass, semi finals day today.
Tristan, Jack and Dylan all had matches, all tough prospects.
First again, was Tristan. He was playing a Zimbabwean player who was a flyer. Tristan towered over him and was far more powerful, he needed to impose a structured game and not give too many angles away. When he did this, he totally dominated. When he didn’t, he struggled. It’s tough to stay in a structured format in squash, so the games went to and fro, right to the 5th. Tristan was too good in the end, proof for the big man that a little more detail in preparation goes a long way. A great win and delighted for Tristan!!
Jack and Dylan had mammoth battles awaiting them in the afternoon. and they knew it. Jack was facing Rory Richmond of Scotland, a notoriously difficult opponent who loves to fight hard for every point. But a great guy and plays fair and with a smile. Dylan was facing a talented young American, Zane Patel, a finalist at the Dutch JO last year.
Jack started ahead of Dylan, and his match went to script. Long, hard rallies. Two warriors on the court, not giving an inch. 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2… into the fifth it went. Roughly an hour in.. Jack did look to have the upper hand in the longer rallies, this did his confidence a world of good and he got over the line the victor. Delighted for him and he’ll get great satisfaction from the win!!
Dylan’s match, similar to yesterday, was full of entertaining squash. 600 mile an hour forehands from the captain, followed by deft touches to the front, followed by the splits to retrieve a counter drop. It was corner to corner squash, the highest of quality! The referee’s, once again getting involved when there was absolutely no need, Dylan keeping his cool and his opponent, Zane being very sporty and purposefully hitting the ball to the floor after one of the calls.
Both players were super respectful, and the match went to the wire, 11 all in the 5th.. anyone’s game.
Sadly for Dylan it wasn’t to be his day, he went for an overhead nick, clipped the tin and that was that.
But all in, a superb day of squash.
The other semi finals and playoffs were immense also, so many going the distance, so many worthy of more exposure to the world outside of squash. Well worth tuning in for any young players to watch for free on SquashTV!
Tomorrow is finals day, the playoffs for positions start early – the tickets are sold out for the glass, a spectacular day of squash in Melbourne ahead no doubt.
After breakfast, a top end breakfast it has to be said, our players made their way to the club, all by different modes of transport. Some had electric scooters, some took the tournament bus, others walked. The walk is pretty spectacular every time, our hotel is on the Albert Park lake and so is the MSAC, where the courts are. So we just hug the path along the lake with the backdrop of the Melbourne skyline each day, couldn’t be luckier! The winter here is cold but the sun is often shining, the best weather in my opinion..
All four of our girls have now been eliminated as they have the team event to come, it’s the remaining 1/4 finalist in the women’s sections left playing. The four lads are playing for position, as they have no team event this year. So Sara, Sophie, Maria and Lydia did some training, enjoyed the main draw matches and supported the lads.
Tristan was again up first, a player from Chinese Taipei his opponent. Tristan played well and managed to sneak the first game 11-9. Super close in the next two, with Tristan doing the majority of the hard work and coming out worse off. He found himself two one down with a mountain to climb. The physical toll was slightly too much and he lost in a close 4.. he’ll look to tomorrow to recoup and get back to winning ways.
Elliot Kelly has been carrying a strain all week, not enough that he cannot play but enough to interfere with his full rhythm. Today he had an awkward German opponent who was up for the challenge and the two lads went full throttle, hammering forehands up and down the right hand wall. Some rallies had it all, full court coverage, rolling nicks, exquisite lobs. Some phases had mindless errors also, it basically boiled down to who focused best and kept the head. Elliot did his best, the leg niggle certainly got into his head and he eventually lost in 4 good games. He’ll have a rest tomorrow before his final match of the event.
Jack was tough today. Gave his Canadian opponent very little to work with. He closed out the first very business like, hitting his targets and open spaces as they became available. The Canadian hit back to level at 1-1 but in the 3rd, Jack broke him. He had run him ragged, some great counter attacks paid dividends and Jack closed it out in 4. A very good win!!
Dylan played an acrobatic Malaysian. A huge test both physically and mentally. You’d have to see it to believe what this guy was retrieving – diving from corner to corner, I don’t know how he had skin left on his hips.. the quality of squash was sublime, very entertaining. It went to the 5th game where lots of drama unfolded.. we had blood injuries, head injuries, falls, trips and slips. Dylan was a warrior and did so well to get the win in 5! Very impressive from him.
Other matches in the event had incredible tension and drama also. Great for our players to watch, be inspired and learn from the worlds best. Lots of big upsets also, showing that anything is possible. The top two seeds in the men’s event out already, including the defending champion.
We ended a big day with some paella from a very cool European market destination in the city centre, some really memorable experiences all around.
The full squad in action on day three, all 8 players with big challenges against strong opposition. All chomping at the bit to get going and improve their final positions.
It was a blustery, cold winters day in Melbourne today, setting the tone for what was to come on court for the Irish.
Lydia was up first, getting stuck into a South African opponent from the get go. Both players were equally matched for skill and equally athletic, an entertaining high quality game of squash, going right down to the wire.. 11-9 in the fifth… heartbreakingly close for Lydia, she deserved a win but it wasn’t to be today.
Tristan was on against Fabien Seltz of Switzerland next. He played well, brought a good fight to the match and pushed all the way. Losing 3-0 in the end but showed good heart. He’ll be looking to carry his form to tomorrow’s match and get a different result.
Sophie Thomas had a tough Canadian opponent, great opening game to take the lead and looked much more herself on court. She fought hard and it was close.. but no cigar. Confidence gained though and more to come in the teams from Sophie!
Elliot faced a solid Kiwi player, where he dictated a lot of the play but the tenacious nature of the New Zealand player helped him grind out a win purely by not making mistakes. His winner count was low but his error count almost zero, a lesson learned for Elliot…
Not too dissimilar to Lydia, Jack O’Flynn played out of his skin, demonstrating his best fighting attributes and had a superb tussle with an Indian player. Again, coming down to the wire, again the Irishman coming out the wrong end of an 11-9 in the 5th… gutting for Jack who really played well and fought so valiantly.
Maria, not quite as strong as she was yesterday. Never really got going. She still managed a few outstanding points, and played a few Maria specials – holding her backhand long enough to suck her opponent into the straight drop and flicking it cross, maybe 5 winners from that shot today. But ultimately, no joy in the end. Losing 3-0.
Another Ireland v New Zealand battle saw Sara taking on the Kiwi no.1. She went toe to toe with her, but the hard straight hitting was relentless from the Kiwi, too much pressure for Sara to handle, it was a great spectacle, intense squash but no joy for Sabry, losing in a good quality 3 games.
Dylan wasn’t at the races either today, going down in four against another Indian opponent. The mental hangover from his devastating loss yesterday evident, no wind in his sails.
The day finished with a trip to Federation Square in central Melbourne where a fan zone was set up to watch Ireland play Australia in the opening match of the women’s World Cup. Another loss for us 🙈 but a nice memory created for this great group of players.
One match each today, apart from Sara who got a bye. It was a bit of a funny start as the women’s matches were all rescheduled in the morning and threw us out of kilter a little, mens draw stayed the same.
Tristan was up first, playing an Australian, Kenneth Lamb. Lots of 50/50 rallies with mistakes eventually deciding most points instead of winners, lots of learning done in many ways from this match for Tristan. He was in with a shout but came out second best, losing 3-0.
Dylan Moran, our last main draw man, was playing Varun Chitturi from the U.S. for a place in the last 16. Dylan was seeded to win but knew it wouldn’t be easy. It was a turbulent match from the start, lots of bumpy play and snappy shots and decisions. The American had great ball control, and was especially good at the front of the court. This caused all sorts of physical problems for Dylan but he managed to win the first and looked the better player.
Some extreme decisions from the referee didn’t help his cause in the second, a particularly unusual call losing him the point at 9-10. But none the less, the match continued in a similar fashion until the 5th game where the American took control of Dylan’s loose play and unfortunately for us, he snook the win. Very disappointing and frustrating for Dylan.
Jack O’Flynn had a much more fruitful time on court today, he looked more himself and pieced together three great games to dispatch a talented Japanese player!
Elliot Kelly was playing a Canadian of a very similar level to him. They traded blows but ultimately, the Canadian chased down more balls and fought very hard to take victory.
Lydia McQuillan played a tough Indian opponent, with some silky smooth squash, she had a bit too much experience and guile for the Lisburn player, signs of great stuff to come from Lydia, but too good from the Indian, a 3-0 win.
Maria Protsepova played possibly the best I have seen her today. Her squash was superb, some intelligent construction of rallies against a very strong Australian. It was nip and tuck in each game, but in the end the Aussie was too powerful and clinical. Certainly signs of improvement from Maria though.
Sophie Thomas had an opponent from Macau. Similar to Elliot’s match, they were very close in standard, but it wasn’t to be Sophie’s day, just a few too many errors.
All players will have more matches tomorrow, still lots to play for in this stacked world championships, where the highest of standards runs from top to bottom, nothing will come easy.
For tonight, we will escape the hotel food and visit St.Kilda, just 1km from our hotel, and get some good fuel for battle tomorrow.
A huge opening day of matches here in Melbourne, all Irish players in action and some big challenges lay ahead in the world class field of this championship.
With 33 nations represented, all players had a nice variety to challenge themselves in the opening stages.
The venue, MSAC, on Albert Park, is one of the best you could ask an event to be held in. So much going on in all other sports, the energy was electric and there was certainly plenty of excitement for all the players at the world champs!
Tristan Snodgrass was first up, playing a super steady Hong Kong opponent who made a total of 2 errors in the match, making life difficult for Tristan and notching up a 3-0 win. In Tristan’s second match of the day, he looked a different player and had shook off any nerves, playing some balanced, quality squash to beat his Macau opponent 3-0. He’ll be thrilled to get a win under his belt!
Jack O’Flynn ripped past his Kuwait opponent in super quick time, setting up a challenging match against the Aussie no.1, and home favourite, Oscar Curtis. He had a good start and showed his pedigree, structuring some great rallies and gained an early lead. The wheels came off a little mid game and the Aussie was starting to see things very early, getting onto the ball super quick. After losing the first, Jack struggled to find his form and lost in 3, disappointing for him for sure but lots more to come this week.
Dylan Moran played a Swiss opponent, not his most polished performance but a 3-0 win nonetheless to bring him into the top 32 and set up a clash with an American player. If Dylan can find his best form, the next few days will be interesting!
Elliot Kelly played a blinder in his opening match, finding some of his best squash to overcome a Papa New Guinea player, 3-1. It wasn’t an easy match by any stretch of the imagination and victory was hard fought. The effort it took from Elliot to win was carried forward to his next match against an Ecuadorean opponent, a bridge too far and he lost in 3. But a good day at the office for Elliot all in.
Sara Sabry had a cracking match against a local Aussie player. Sara fought tooth and nail to claim a superb 5 set victory in a hostile environment, setting her up to play one of the worlds best players from South Africa. This was a tough one, but Sara held a good account of herself and pushed hard. It wasn’t to be though and she lost in 3…
Maria Protsepova played a top English player, and had a great opening game, going toe to toe and did not give it up easy. The next two were a bit quicker but all in a good performance from Maria who will benefit from the exposure to such a high level!
Lydia McQuillan was very unlucky against her Kiwi opponent. Losing a close first game and missing out on 4 game balls in the second was extremely unfortunate. The third game ran away quickly with some strong squash from the New Zealander, lots learned for Lydia who is displaying a lot of strong attributes.
Sophie Thomas had a tough match and fought hard, a few things didn’t go her way but the event is long and she will come back strong after her 3-0 loss.
Some inspiration for all our young players on display throughout the busy day, an incredible experience for all involved!!
hWhilst most squash players tend to ease off a little in the summer off season, the worlds best juniors are hard at work! Each year the world U19 championships take place in July/August with both the men and women’s individual events held, alternating years for the team championships. This year is the turn of the women’s U19 team event and Melbourne are the proud hosts.
Ireland have four entries in the men’s individual championships, Dylan Moran, Jack O’Flynn, Elliot Kelly and Tristan Snodgrass making the trip down under. Our female representatives are Sara Sabry, Sophie Thomas, Maria Protsepova and Lydia McQuillan – who will play both individually and in the teams.
We started our trip from Ireland to Melbourne on different paths, some through Abu Dhabi, some through Dubai. Some direct and some with a stop over. All arriving to the spectacular Melbourne City the same evening.
The venue is outstanding. It’s the Melbourne sports and aquatic centre. Within the giant, state of the art complex, there are 10 squash courts, one of which is a permanent glass court. The other 9 are glass backs surround the centre piece, creating an atmosphere that will be electric for the event. One of the most breathtaking features is the outdoor 50m pool with a stadium like grandstand, the whole venue is incredible!
All teams are based close to the centre, just a 15 minute stroll through Albert park – probably the best park I’ve ever seen. Full of activity, so much energy from people walking, running, rowing on the lake, cycling around its formula 1 track, golfing – it has so much going on. The city skyline provides a picturesque backdrop. A perfect place to inspire our players.
We’ve been training well, slowly but surely getting over the jet lag and getting used to the courts. Monday we’ll have our last couple of sessions before the event kicks off on Tuesday morning.
Squash Australia are hosting an opening ceremony Monday evening at the museum of the MCG, so lots for us to look forward to.
Until then we’ll be resting, eating, training and choosing out flag bearer, stiff competition for the honour.